How biodiversity is generated and maintained are central questions in science, which are becoming increasingly important for our quality of life. How do similar species coexist in a system? Which ones will dominate or be excluded? Will the system succumb to invasion by outsiders? Can we predict these interactive dynamics in systems with many different species? Simulations and statistical approaches are typically adopted to answer these questions, but the limited predictions they offer prompted Erida Gjini, principal investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in collaboration with Sten Madec, from the University of Tours, in France, to explore a deeper mathematical route and uncover the general rules that describe such systems.
The two researchers used the system of microbial transmission between hosts as the basis of their theoretical study. In this type of system, each species colonizing the host can alter the local